Cause advances of eminently quotable Archbishop Sheen

“There are not 100 people in the United States who hate the Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.” 

That’s one of many punchy quotes attributed to Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, whose sainthood cause took a major step forward in the last days of June, when Pope Benedict XVI approved a declaration of the American televangelist’s “heroic virtues.” The final step before beatification is certification of a miracle attributed to Archbishop Sheen’s intercession. According to Catholic News Service, last September a tribunal of inquiry was sworn in to investigate the allegedly miraculous healing of a newborn who parents had prayed to the archbishop to intercede for a cure. 

Archbishop Sheen’s Emmy award-winning “Life is Worth Living” television program, which aired from 1951 to 1957, showcased his no-nonsense and common sense approach to growth in character and virtue. If he’s canonized, he’ll be one of the few saints for which we have hours and hours of video recordings — many of which can be easily accessed online on YouTube. 

Among them you’ll find all sorts of gems. The Catholic editor at, Elizabeth Scalia, identified these as among her favorites: 

“Hearing nuns’ confessions is like being stoned to death with popcorn.” And: 

“Jealousy is the tribute mediocrity pays to genius.” 

Deacon Greg Kandra drew my attention to this speech snippet, which was made at the end of 1940 but seems especially appropriate as we head deeper into an election season: 

“Our unity must be in God or we will fall as other nations that have abandoned God have fallen and will fall. There are too many divisions and classes among us in America now; too many hates, too few deep loves; too much tolerance based on expediency and not enough tolerance grounded in charity; too much tolerance of evil, not enough intolerance for righteousness. 

“There can be differences in our national life without animosity, varying lights of conscience without bitterness, provided we have a really good reason for loving one another. And the only good reason for loving everyone, whomsoever he be, is because he is a creature of God, redeemed by the precious blood of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This is important, for unfortunately the basis of unity among many of us is a common hate, and too often a hatred of a person rather than a hatred of wrong. We know whom we hate, but whom do we love? ... 

“We cannot and we must not hate any person whom God made – even though he be our enemy. But in forgetting evil we have substituted a hatred of persons. It is very well for us to sing ‘God Bless America,’ but how can He bless us, if we hate?” 

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